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Venezuela seizes 2 oil rigs owned by U.S. company

| Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, 9:18 p.m.

CARACAS — Venezuela has quietly seized control of two oil rigs owned by a unit of Houston-based Superior Energy Services after the company shut them down because the state oil monopoly was months behind on payments.

The seizure took place Thursday after a judge in the state of Anzoategui, accompanied by four members of the local police and national guard, entered a Superior depot and ordered it to hand over control of two specialized rigs to an affiliate of PDVSA, the state-owned oil producer.

PDVSA justified the equipment's expropriation, calling it essential to the South American nation's development and welfare, according to a court order obtained by The Associated Press. Company workers were instructed to load the rigs onto trucks to be deployed at “critical wells” elsewhere, according to the document.

Oil companies are weary of working with PDVSA, which has accumulated huge debts to service contractors on whom it depends to develop the world's largest proven oil reserves.

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